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Introduction: A City of Pipes

by Koray Birenheide

Series: The Hollow Man and His Daughter

People used to put their worlds into shoe boxes.

Open the lid and you would fall right in. You'd stroll through the shoe box until you had explored every nook and cranny. When you left the box, the world would still be there, waiting for you, but a part of it would also be inside of you.

Industrious as humans are, they looked for ever more efficient ways of sharing their worlds. They tried to stuff them in matchboxes, paint them onto the outside of light bulbs, or turning them into fine dust to scatter into the winds. But of all the things they tinkered and crafted, none could compare to the pipes.

Pipes weren't new, of course. So many things already came to people through pipes: Warmth and light and the truths of the world. But when people realized, they could squeeze their worlds through the pipes, the one they shared was remade. Pipes sprouted from the earth and crossed ten-thousand nations and seven oceans a million times over.

The bounty of worlds was immeasurable and people had pipes in their homes, even their pockets, forgetting about their dusty shoe boxes. The idea of shoe boxes fit neatly into a pipe, and so did the world it might contain. Why waste the space?

The man saw the pipes growing as he himself was growing up, yet he never realized how they displaced the landscape in which he had grown up. Not until it was gone. He had spent his youth crafting the most intricate shoe box whenever he had a moment to spare. Now, he was just a man in a city of pipes. A million miles of pipes. Pipes that carry a million lives: Their hopes, their dreams, and their fears.

Beyond happiness, there is being full, beyond sadness, there is being empty. The full revel in both happiness and sadness, for they are beautiful expressions of life. The empty despair in happiness and sadness, for they are both fleeting wiles that leave no mark on a hollow soul.

The man was full, growing up. He wandered through many shoe boxes, worlds flowing into him. "How can you take so many worlds into yourself, you are still so small," they said to him when he was a boy. And he would reply: "I grow bigger on the inside when I discover them."

When he was all grown up, he was a giant within. But the shoe boxes were gone. The pipes had come into his life, and he could let the worlds flow right into his soul. No longer would he discover, no longer grow. And thus came the cracks.

Worlds began flowing out of him and as great and full as he had been before, as empty was he becoming then. There was more empty space within him than any creature could fathom.

This is the Hollow Man. Hollow, like the pipes. But he was not always like this, not until the cracks appeared on his soul. And so, he took a piece, and turned it into a daughter.

His soul kept on leaking and he kept heaping it onto her.

Have you seen the Hollow Man? The Hollow Man and his daughter.

Come and see the Hollow Man! The Hollow Man and his daughter.

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©2017-2023, Koray Birenheide

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